A: Just to be clear, this question isn’t asking how long a laptop battery should hold a charge, but rather how long a battery should be useful. This is an extremely common question anymore. It seems people are holding on to their laptops longer and longer, which is not surprising given that most computers produced over the last 5 years or so are powerful enough for most common tasks. This is true for desktops as well, but since laptops are mobile devices they need batteries to function, which makes keeping a laptop a little more challenging.
Most laptop batteries will have a lifespan of about 2 – 3 years (the exception being the latest Apple MacBook/MacBook Pro batteries which claim a lifespan of about 5 years). However, the lifespan of a battery can be greatly affected by the way the owner of the laptop uses their batteries. Abusive use of a laptop battery can be detrimental of course, and I covered that in a previous article. But heavy laptop users may simply “use up” the charge cycles of a battery much more quickly than average users. Users who use their laptops on battery for many hours a day may only get 1 – 2 years of use before the battery loses a significant proportion of their ability to hold a charge. Users who don’t use their laptops all that often or who leave them plugged in a significant amount of time may get 3-4 years of useful life from the battery.
Sometimes, a battery may be defective and lose charge capacity too quickly. Unfortunately most manufactures don’t warrant their batteries past 1 year, even with extended warranties. Check the policies of a laptop manufacturer BEFORE making the purchase if this is important to you.
Finally, if you do need a new battery, I don’t suggest shopping for third party batteries. You may be able to save some money from a third-party battery manufacturer, but in my experience, the odds of problems and the hassle of service isn’t worth it. Most brand-name batteries are in the $100 to $140 range. For that you get the peace of mind knowing that the battery is the exact right model for your laptop and that if there is a problem you should be able to get service very easily.
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